Packed with ancient history, rich culture, and ineffable urban and rural landscapes, Italy is one of Europe’s prized jewels. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that so many tourists flock to its most popular locations — Rome, Florence, and Venice — during the summertime.
If you’re planning a trip to this Mediterranean oasis, or just plan to put it at the top of your list of places to visit, be sure to make the most of your holiday abroad by following some of these tips:
Take your time
Although Italy was the birthplace of Western civilization, the overall atmosphere of the country is far more relaxed than that of the United States’. And while it may be tempting to pack your days with as much sightseeing and photo-snapping as possible, it would greatly benefit you to take your enthusiasm down the notch and simply focus on immersing yourself in the Italian culture.
While you may not be able to see as many famous landmarks and tourist traps in one day, you’ll definitely see more of the country’s incomparable character — something money just can’t buy.
Experience authentic Italian cooking
Forget chain and tourist-populated restaurants and opt to eat at small, locally-owned restaurants instead. Although you may need to brush up on your Italian (or have a translator app at the ready), you will not only get to enjoy authentic Italian cooking, but you will also lessen your chances of being overcharged by greedy servers as well.
Visit national parks
Although many people choose to spend their time in sprawling urban areas, there is indescribable beauty to be found in Italy’s countryside and along its shores. Soak in these sights by taking a day or even two to hike along the gorgeous hills and harbors of Cinque Terre, or visiting Vesuvius National Park to get a bird’s eye view at the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’ infamous 79 AD eruption.
Visit the southern “heel”
If you’re looking to experience more of Italian’s rustic and charming countryside, consider taking a drive around the boot-shaped country’s “heel.” Not only will you likely be able to avoid tourists entirely, but you’ll also get a glimpse of where much of Italy’s produce comes from.
Don’t forget Sicily
While Sicily is most known for its abundance of mafia families and deep-dish pizza, there is much more to this island than meets the eye. Stunning art, historical landmarks, prehistoric ruins, and jaw dropping beaches can be found on the island, along with accommodating locals and unbeatable cuisine. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in Sicily, it will be time well-spent.
To read more of Ryan Hemphill’s travel advice, visit RyanHemphill.net.